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According to the latest numbers, data deduplication is one of the hottest technology segments, and it’s only going to get hotter, according to a new study from TheInfoPro that found that the majority of large organizations believe deduplication will have the greatest impact on their storage architectures.

Providing further evidence of dedupe’s momentum, EMC, a leader in both hardware and software deduplication, just reported greater than 50 percent year-over-year growth of both its Data Domain and Avamar dedupe products. And the results of an IDC study report that demand for storage efficiency is driving deduplication adoption and there are growing opportunities for the channel.

More than 60 percent of respondents to an IDC survey are either in the process of deduplicating or have plans to deduplicate their primary, backup, or archive data in the coming year, says Laura DuBois, program director, Storage Software, IDC. The numbers are even better when it comes to buying intentions, with 76 percent intending to spend over the next 12 months.

As for the channel, DuBois thinks the biggest opportunity is changing the existing market dynamics where 76 percent of customers buy directly from the vendor. "I think there is an opportunity to change that."

IDC restricted the survey — Deduplication: An End-User Benchmark on Adoption and Value Metrics — to respondents using or planning to use deduplication solutions because the market is still "nascent", she says. The Web-based survey of 501 U.S. businesses (100+ employees) was completed in October 2009.

DuBois says the tipping point for the spending on deduplication solutions stems from larger projects around improving storage performance, virtualizing servers, and disaster recovery, and the size of the organization wasn’t a factor. "Usage was quite comparable by size of firm, with not a lot of variance from SMB and up. However, they’re different solutions for each one of those segments, she adds.

This is an area the channel can exploit, says DuBois. With deduplication primarily considered a part of a larger issue or solution, there are a lot of implications beyond buying a point solution. "A savvy partner is going to ask about these broader problems to get involved."

While organizations with more than 6 petabytes of disk storage placed higher priority on storage performance as a driver, more than half (57.5 percent) of the respondents said their organizations are currently implementing deduplication or have already deduplicated primary data including virtual servers.

That was a little surprising, says DuBois, because IDC thought the bulk of deduplication would be for secondary, not primary data. Half of those surveyed were in the process of deduping primary data.

She adds that the both the usage and plans were comparable for backup and primary data, and only slightly lower for archive data.

EMC and NetApp dominate hardware-based deduplication, while EMC, Symantec and IBM were the top three software dedupe vendors. The biggest opportunity is for both physical and virtual servers, and she says the vendors that can do both should grab the majority of the business.

DuBois says users’ satisfaction with deduplication technology is highest in the areas of performance, overall system, and management. One area highlighted for improvement was the implementation process.